Despite claims to the contrary, there’s been some speculation lately that the 3DS may be in line for a hardware revision. Think “3DS Lite” or “3DS XL.” Given that the system only launched a scant six months ago, this would come as a big surprise. The thing is, the system has pretty much bombed. If Nintendo had an “Oh Poop” button, they’d be hitting it now — and they have, with the huge price cut. The fact that the system priced dropped $80 in those six months also came as a big surprise.
My question is this, though: If Nintendo does surprise us again, how do they compensate early adopters this time? Should they have to?
The hardware is admittedly flawed. The battery life is abysmal. The hinges get loose. The top and bottom screens rub together, prompting some people to remove the feet from their Xbox 360s and stick them between the lids. There are a handful of less disastrous problems with the design too: strange stylus placement that almost always means stabbing your cartridge, oddly positioned d-pad and buttons. I’ve personally taken to not using the d-pad at all because it causes hand cramps.
So a revision would probably be the best thing.
Except that it will piss off everyone who’s already purchased one. I’ve read comments all over the internet where early adopters are decrying even the discussion of new hardware. Inevitably, someone comes along and reminds them that they chose to buy that 3DS and they got what they paid for. This is true, except for the screen, and hinge, and button placement problems, which are only revealed in time. All of that aside, let’s assume for a minute that none of these problems exist. People would still feel cheated out of their money.
When a better designed, more functional, and less expensive version of the same console releases so close to the original hardware they bought on faith, people feel tricked. Given how far out design changes are usually planned, they may even be right — should these rumors be true, of course. So the impetus will be on Nintendo to convince these customers they weren’t shafted; that their $80 more expensive hardware wasn’t a stop-gap money grab version of a beta test. Can they even offer enough to prevent that? Will Mr. Fils-Aime take a salary cut like his counterpart in Japan?
Even though we’re talking about their most dedicated, most faithful fans here, short of an exchange program, I really don’t think so.
Stay tuned to Vagary.TV as we get closer to Tokyo Games Show and we’ll fill you in on the details.